Charlie Donlea lives in Chicago with his wife and two young children. His first novel, Summit Lake, was a #1 Audible bestseller. The Girl Who Was Taken is his second novel, and he is under contract for two more thrillers due in 2018 and 2019. With so many choices of entertainment, and countless other books to choose from, he thanks you for spending your time and treasure on his novels.
I am well aware of the entertainment venues that compete with novels. Although an avid reader, I, too, am a lover of music and movies, of television and sports.
I'm a sucker for watching acoustic covers on YouTube. If you've seen one Zac Brown video, you know you'll need to see them all. I've binge watched entire television series—headphones on, iPad to nose and lights off in the middle of the night. Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy caused me more lost sleep than any writing deadline. Sunday afternoons are spent watching football. And my family has a standing date each week called Friday Night Movie Night.
So, I understand Summit Lake and The Girl Who Was Taken are up against steep competition—and this doesn't take into account the vast number of other novels written by authors whose talents far surpass my own.
But when I set out to write my stories, I wanted to give them a chance. I wanted them to possess the ammunition needed to fight off the competition. So I took inventory and pinpointed what, exactly, makes me pick up a book rather than reach for the remote or log onto the computer.
And the answer is this: The book has to call me back to it.
If a story makes me think about it after I've put it down, if it makes me wonder what will happen next, if it makes me ponder where the characters are going and what is in store for them—then, when I'm free and able to spend leisure time on entertainment, hands down I'm reaching for that book before anything else.
I've been fortunate to hear from readers around the country and across the ocean who have told me Summit Lake and The Girl Who Was Taken do exactly that. I've enjoyed hearing that readers couldn't wait to get back to the stories. "Couldn't put it down" is a cliché. We all have lives and work and responsibilities that force us to put books down. But when I hear that readers couldn't wait to get back to the books, I know I've succeeded. When they couldn't wait to return to the characters they are getting to know, the setting they are starting to visualize, the story that's subtly poking their curiosity, and the mystery they think they've got solved but need just another few pages to be sure—well, then my books have a fighting chance against the competition.
So try them. Pick up one of my books and get into the story. Then, put it down and get on with your life. If the characters or the setting or the mystery calls you back to it, then turn off the television for a night, stow the tablet at bedtime, and read a good book. And if you're able to figure out the twist in Summit Lake or The Girl Who Was Taken, let me know by dropping me a line. I'd love to hear from you.